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After the election: Solace and hope

By Andrew Harnack Monday and Tuesday of last week were remarkable for two reasons. On Monday evening, the night before Election Day, Democratic Barnesvillians met for their monthly conversation in the Pastime Restaurant. Everyone in attendance agreed that, after all of Tuesday’s votes were counted — no matter who wins in the local, state and national races — words of reconciliation must be spoken. Then on Tuesday night, with both Republicans and Democrats attending a ‘watch party’ near downtown Barnesville, within many anxious moments, expressions of hope for reconciliation were spoken many times. Knowing what I repeatedly heard on both nights, I’m encouraged to tell my Republican friends what many Democrats believe and feel in their hearts in these post-election days. My Democratic friends wish to convey sincere appreciation to all who ran for office in our local, state and national elections. As Democrats we know a strong and vibrant democracy needs the voice of thoughtful citizens sharing ideas and convictions in the public forum. While grateful that our nation returns President Barack Obama to a second term of office, we Democrats are keenly aware many of our dear friends and neighbors are disappointed in Mitt Romney’s defeat. Hearts and hopes rested on Romney’s spirited campaign. Within our families and churches, many whom we love and cherish voted for Romney. For this reason we neither feel excessive glee nor wish to give way to any undue gloating regarding this past week’s election results. In fact, we wish to thank our Republican friends for helping make clear important policy and polity differences between Republicans and Democrats. Our Republican friends worked hard to help voters understand the fundamental differences between Democrats and Republican values and visions. To that end, our own Herald-Gazette is to be commended for fostering the exchange of ideas within its readership. Guest columnists and editorials were often clear and concise in articulating differences of opinion and conviction. Thanks to both Republican and Democratic print and electronic reporting and coverage, voting citizens here and throughout the nation made intelligent and well-formed decisions as they entered polling stations. As Democrats who work politically under a big tent, we wish to thank the many Independents in the swing states who, after long deliberation, decided to vote for Democratic representatives at the state and national levels. Obviously, our Independent friends reviewed events during the past four years and were given hope for the future under Democratic leadership. Realizing Obama’s decisions saved the auto industry, Independents said, ‘Thank you’ as people with real full-time jobs. Seeing a steady and unswerving hand at the wheel, Independents came to know Obama as someone who doesn’t change his sails to suit the winds of change. Knowing Obama won’t allow our country to engage in unjustified wars, Independents realized we have a leader we can trust with the lives of our young men and women. Remembering Obama brought justice down upon Osama Ben Laden, Independents said, ‘Well done, Mr. President.’ Sensing Obama is determined to return our nation to full employment, on Nov. 6 Independent voters said, ‘Thank you’ and ‘Press on.’ Now it’s our turn as both Republicans and Democrats to work with President Obama and all elected officials at every level. We’re especially hopeful that members of our national Senate and House of Representatives will find common ground upon which to work for our nation’s return to fiscal balance. Yes, that will involve compromise on both sides. Historically, however, compromise has always been the way to effective change. To that end, we ask our neighbors and friends everywhere down the street, with in families and in churchpews ‘“ to speak with respect to one another. We urge the use of honorable language, spoken in kindness and conviction. Let us be today’s Tip O’Neals and Ronald Reagans, people of different parties who, respecting one another, know how to work for the good of our country. Let us put aside any preening semblance of joy in someone’s defeat. Let us set aside all undue resentment in defeat. Rather, let us join hands to make the United States all it can be in God’s grace. To that end, we Democrats give our Republican friends words of solace and hope.

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